By Justin Flynn
Smaller but mighty – that’s the catchphrase of this year’s National Celtic Festival.
Held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Portarlington from June 11 to 14, the festival is back post-COVID-19 pandemic and adapting to the times.
Two batches have tickets have sold out, with a third set to be released by organisers in the coming days.
Festival director Una McAlinden said although the event will be smaller than previous years, it has attracted punters from every state and territory in the country.
“There are people coming from all over Australia and lots on the waiting list,” she said.
“Other events have had big challenges to get up and running so we decided to go small and mighty, our catchphrase. We are adapting as much as we can.
“We are pulling in the best talent we can get for a smaller event.”
Ms McAlinden said the artists were “really pumped” to be playing live again.
“They all want to be part of it, which is a challenge because we can’t take everyone,” she said.
“Everyone is looking forward to the opportunity to get up and play a live gig.
“It’s sad that we can’t have everybody, but that’s what it has to be.”
The 2021 line-up features high-energy roots music duo Hat Fitz and Cara, Scottish rockers Rich Davies and Claymore along with festival favourites Trouble in the Kitchen and The Maggie Carty Band.
Folk acts include the best in the scene Songwriters and multi-instrumentalists The New Graces, Music Victoria folk artist of the year Fiona Ross and Shane O’Mara, Bo’Ness, Out of Hand and Quinn Hames along with award-winning Pete Denahy.
Ms McAlinden said many interstate festival-goers were travelling specifically for the event.
“We are attracting a whole lot of people to the region and most of them are staying for more than the three days,” she said.
“It’s a funny time to have a festival in winter but it does attract a lot of people to the region when it’s normally quiet.
“If we show them what else is in the region, people will come back.”
Even if you can’t score a ticket to the festival, which is celebrating its 18th birthday, Ms McAlinden said there is still plenty to see and do.
“Don’t be put off coming,” she said.
“There is value in just coming and soaking up the vibe.”
Non-ticket holders can enjoy the kids’ entertainment, see the highland cattle, browse the markets and stalls and grab lunch or a snack from the food trucks.